May 28 (Reuters) – The West has left Belarus with no choice but to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons and must be careful not to “cross red lines” on key strategic issues, a senior Belarusian official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Alexander Volpovich, state secretary of the Belarus Security Council, said the arms withdrawal was logical since the United States provided security guarantees and did not impose sanctions after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
“Today, everything has been torn apart. All the promises that were made are gone forever,” Belda news agency quoted Volpovich as saying in an interview on state television.
Belarus, led by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, is Russia’s staunchest ally in the former Soviet Union and in February 2022 allowed the Kremlin to use its territory to launch an invasion of Ukraine.
Russia moved forward last week with a decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory, aimed at achieving certain victories on the battlefield.
Russia says its “special military operation” in Ukraine is aimed at countering what it says is a drive by “the collective West” to wage a proxy war and inflict defeat on Moscow.
“The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the territory of Belarus is one of the strategic deterrence measures. If there is any reason in the heads of Western politicians, of course, they will not cross this red line,” Volbovich said.
“Any attempt to use tactical nuclear weapons will lead to irreversible consequences,” he said.
Lukashenko said last week that the weapons were already in motion, but it was not yet clear when they would be.
The United States has condemned the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus, but says its position on the use of such weapons has not changed.
Western sanctions were imposed on Belarus long before the invasion over Lukashenko’s crackdown on human rights, particularly the suppression of mass protests against what his opponents say is his fraudulent re-election in 2020.
After gaining independence from Soviet rule, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan agreed to disarm and return to Russia as part of international efforts to control proliferation.
Report by Ron Popsky; Editing by Mark Porter
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